I am reading an interview by Laura Berman of the Detroit News of an author on yet what appears to be on the surface just another 6.6 pound brick in the wall of documenting the decay of Detroit and adding yet another volume of literation to the genre of what I call the above ground Indutrial Pompeii that I call Detroit. Is it a little simplisttic for a city that can't afford its debt; one that is on the precipice of an emergency financial manager or bankruptcy to be saved by the observation of an outsider?
"The way for the city to come back is for people to see these buildings' (Author,Julia Taubman 'Detroit: 138 Square Miles via Detnews interview)
I have often posted on how Detroit went from being an industrial edge Camelot to an urban centric Spamelot of ruins.
Video: The Decline Of Detroit From An Olympic Camelot To A Debt Ridden Spamelot. A Transformation To Obamanation In 50 years.
It many ways the deviation from the vision and inspiration that President JFK had for Detroit in 1962 and the transformation into a government dependent Obamanation is the real tragedy of Detroit
A few observations on the interview by Laura Berman with Julia Taubman are in order when looking at the historic decline and rapid decay of Detroit.
One of the contributing factors to Detroit's decline was the migration of retail shopping via large scale malls out to the suburbs. Large one-stop shopping malls covering acres upon acres lured millions of retail shoppers and their dollars away from Detroit AND put the demise to a lot of small businesses in the city of Detroit proper. For 'people to see these buildings', empty ruinious hulks of abandonment should also take into context on the hows and whys of the transformation of oppulence to opprobrium.
Many life-long residents of Detroit as well as the millions of ex-patriats who have left the region because they didnt want to live amongst the ruins that are documented in 'Detroit: 138 Square Miles' would also tell you that the mallinization of the region by the Taubmans and others contributed to the expansion of the suburbs and the decline of Detroit.
Will another 6.6lb book of Detroit's decay tell us that billionaires should invest and save Detroit from itself? Its not a cutting edge idea when one looks at the passion and philantropy of the Ilitches and Gilberts who are the unsung heros of investing in Detroit, its people and architectlure. What would be more novel of the novelist would be to build a mall in Detroit and bring the jobs and shoppers back.
Now back to my central station point of this post. Will another book on the ruins of Detroit inspire change? is the book cutting edge that adds to the genre?
The short answers are no and no. Here are a few reasons why. The long answer is that if Taubman really wants to make a difference then follow the path of the Illitch and Gilbert's and put your money into the city – build a mall and they will come. That the Taubmans should know better than anyone else. Just Do It in Detroit.
July 9, 2009
When Kevin Bauman began photographing Detroit’s derelict houses in the late ’90s, his intention was to create a record of the homes before they were torn down to make way for new development. Using an old Hasselblad camera, Mr. Bauman, 37, a Web developer and freelance photographer, shot them straight on, in the style of commercial catalog photography.
“I wanted to leave the houses alone and not put too much of myself in them,” he explained.
A decade later, most of the structures are still standing, as development in Detroit never reached a fever pitch. And as the houses continue to deteriorate, the photographs, at 100abandonedhouses.com, provide a beautiful and heartbreaking record of what were once some of the city’s grandest properties.
Inkjet prints of the images are available for $35 each, and Mr. Bauman is donating 30 percent of the profits to the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity. “I don’t think a single person from Detroit has ordered any,” he said. “If you grew up looking at these houses, it just makes you mad.”
Posted By Centrist on August 17, 2009
The Centrist is reading a fascinating report where the Detroit News has documented the most visual evidence of Detroit’s decline as an industrial powerhouse in the 20th Century. The 48 buildings in the story are just but a fraction of the urban ghost town known as the Motor City. The expose in the Detnews dramatically brings home the following points:
- Four dozen big buildings in the heart of Detroit are languishing, vacant, because demand for commercial and office space has dropped and money to demolish or renovate them has dried up.
- These are among the most visible ghosts in a city of ghostly buildings — the harsh, physical evidence of a community that has lost 1 million people from its peak population of 1.8 million in the 1950s.
Finding "Lost Detroit" Among the Ruins
“Every building in Detroit has a story.”
And, thankfully, Dan Austin and Sean Doerr are the storytellers. Austin, 29, is the main wordsmith. Doerr, 20, is the photographer. Together, their not-for-profit “Buildings of Detroit” web site gives life to edifices otherwise left for dead. It is required reading if you've ever taken a ride on the People Mover and wondered,” What's that building?” or “Why is something so breathtaking left to virtually rot?” (More on Time.com: See pictures of the remains of Detroit)
Austin and Doerr also are the authors of newly released “Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City's Majestic Ruins.” This amazing book tells the tales of 12 of Detroit's most stately structures “from the day they opened to the day they closed,” Austin writes. Highlights include Michigan Central Station, Vanity Ballroom, Cass Tech High School and more.
A self-professed history nerd, Austin accepted my challenge of chatting about the book, the view from his front porch (think giant, dilapidated train station) and his challenge to the billionaires who own these “ruins” all while patiently waiting for a 426-pound pallet of books to show up Tuesday. Thankfully, the books showed up – just in time for the Thursday release party at City Bird. (Austin also will be on WDET's Craig Fahle show today around 11 a.m. Tune in.) (More on Time.com: See why City Bird was opened in Detroit)
Read on, bibliophiles.
Detroit in ruins: the photographs of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre
In downtown Detroit, the streets are lined with abandoned hotels and swimming pools, ruined movie houses and schools, all evidence of the motor city's painful decline. The photographs of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre capture what remains of a once-great city – and hint at the wider story of post-industrial America
In December 2001, the old Highland Park police department in Detroit was temporarily disbanded. The building it vacated was abandoned with everything in it: furniture, uniforms, typewriters, crime files and even the countless mug-shots of criminals who had passed through there. Among the debris that photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre found there in 2005 was a scattering of stiff, rotting cardboard files each bearing a woman's name.
- Yves Marchand / Romain Meffre: The Ruins of Detroit
- by Robert Polidori
- Buy it from the Guardian bookshop
In total 11 women had been catalogued by the police, including Debbie Ann Friday, Vicki Truelove, Juanita Hardy, Bertha Jean Mason and Valerie Chalk. Down in the dank basement of the police station, where "human samples" were stored – and had been abandoned along with everything else – the two French photographers also uncovered the name of the man who was linked to all of the women's deaths. Benjamin Atkins was a notorious serial killer. Between 1991 and 1992 he left the bodies of his victims in various empty buildings across the city.
A photograph simply entitled Criminal Investigation Report, Highland Park Police Station is one of the many startling images in an extraordinary book, The Ruins of Detroit, that Marchand and Meffre have made from their seven week-long visits to Detroit between 2005 and 2009. The book's photographs suggest the countless strange and sad narratives from urban life in America in the mid-to-late 20th century. It is also a book of testimony, which not only illustrates the dramatic decline of a major American city, but of the American Dream itself. Many of the images seem post-apocalyptic, as if some sudden catastrophe has struck downtown Detroit, forcing everyone to abandon homes and workplaces and flee the city.
Cumulatively, the photographs are a powerful and disturbing testament to the glory and the destructive cost of American capitalism: the centre of a once-thriving metropolis in the most powerful nation on earth has become a ghost town of decaying buildings and streets. There is a formal beauty here too, though, reminiscent of Robert Polidori's images of post-hurricane Katrina New Orleans. "It seems like Detroit has just been left to die," says Marchand, "Many times we would enter huge art deco buildings with once-beautiful chandeliers, ornate columns and extraordinary frescoes, and everything was crumbling and covered in dust, and the sense that you had entered a lost world was almost overwhelming. In a very real way, Detroit is a lost world – or at least a lost city where the magnificence of its past is everywhere evident."
This sense of loss is what Marchand and Meffre have captured in image after image, whether of vast downtown vistas where every tower block is boarded-up or ravaged interior landscapes where the baroque stonework, often made from marble imported from Europe, is slowly crumbling and collapsing. The pair have photographed once-grand hotels that were built in a carefree mix of gothic, art deco, Moorish and medieval styles, as well as countless baroque theatres, movie houses and ballrooms – the Vanity, where big band giants such as Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey played in the 1930s; the Eastown theatre, where pioneering hard rock groups like Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5 held court in the 1960s.
They have also captured for posterity the desolate interiors that once made up the city's civic infrastructure: courthouses, churches, schools, dentists, police stations, jails, public libraries and swimming pools, all of which have most of their original fixtures and fittings intact. "As Europeans, we were looking with an outsider's eye, which made downtown Detroit seem even more strange and dramatic," says Meffre. "We are not used to seeing empty buildings left intact. In Europe, salvage companies move in immediately and take what they can sell as antiques. Here, they only take the metal piping to sell for scrap. In the Vanity ballroom alone, we saw four giant art deco chandeliers, beautiful objects, each one unique. It was almost unbelievable that they could still be there. It is as if America has no sense of its own architectural history and culture."
Marchand (29) and Meffre (23) have been taking photographs together since they first met in 2002. They are both children of Paris's banlieue, hailing from the southern suburbs of the city. Without formal training, they describe themselves as "autodidacts who share an obsession with ruins", which, says Meffre, "allow you to appear to enter a different world, a lost world, and to report back from there".
Having photographed old buildings – "mainly disused theatres" – in Paris, they happened upon an image of Michigan Central train station in Detroit while surfing the internet for pictures of abandoned buildings. "It was so stately and so dramatic that we decided right then we had to go," says Meffre, "but we were naive; we had no idea of the scale of the project, of the vastness of downtown Detroit and its ruins. There is nothing comparable in Europe.
November 26, 2011
Julia Reyes Taubman arrived in Detroit to live with her new husband in the suburbs, never expecting to stumble upon another grand passion in the city itself.
But that's what happened when, seven years ago, artist friends took her to the old Packard plant, that mile-long monument to industrialization and its aftermath.
"Emotionally, it hit me, like nothing else. …" she says, recalling the beginning of an obsession with the architectural history and story of Detroit that has yet to release its grip.
"The way for the city to come back is for people to see these buildings," she says.
Taubman, 44, who married into the mall-developing Taubman family in 1999 (her husband, Robert, is the company's CEO), had lived most of her life in Washington, D.C., New York, and Texas. She landed in the Rust Belt with sophisticated social connections, a passion for mid-20th century architecture and an adventurous spirit.
All proved useful in pursuit of her newfound fascination with Detroit: She began taking photographs, thousands of them, documenting Detroit's spaces, open and closed, from the grandeur of Belle Isle to the Ulysses S. Grant house near the state fairgrounds to the lean lines of the deserted Midland School.
Having spent much of her life elsewhere, she trusted her certainty that Detroit was extraordinary. "I kept wondering, how come nobody knows about this, because it's so visually arresting," she remembers thinking. Taubman was already engaged by Detroit's art scene, co-founding MoCAD, the contemporary art museum on Woodward. The city had become, as Elmore Leonard describes, "her vocation, her passion."
She became an acolyte of Albert Kahn, the prolific architect who brought light into factories for the first time and built many of Detroit's most iconic buildings, from the Model T factory to the Fisher Building to The Detroit News building, and was astonished by the variety of architecture on Wayne State University's campus.
By the time she realized there might be a book in her project, she was methodically visiting every street in Detroit for what has become "Detroit: 138 Square Miles," with all of the proceeds going to MoCAD.
It's a book that surprises and stuns people, even world-weary Detroit newspaper reporters, because of the explicit and expansive way it documents Detroit at the turn of this century. "It weighs 6.6 pounds," says novelist Leonard, equal to the heft of at least three Leonard novels. ("I think it's great," he also says.)Related Websites
- Relationship Bridge “The generation gap causes so many heartaches between generations!” “Then,” I will ask, “that you become the Relationship Bridge.” A simple answer to a truly perplexing problem. But that is something that appear to have been lost within this modern generation that applies to families, society and business. The Generation......
- Staying active...walking, walking, walking First off, let me say that I like to be active, but I am not in the least athletic. Nearly everything I really like to do is sedentary, but I think it is right to be active. For a couple of years I did Curves, and I really liked it,......
- Pro America! Ahhh the Fourth of July! A day that calls for BBQ's and beer for the entire country. What a wonderful day to sit back and think about how great it is to be an American. I never truly celebrated the day until I started dating my husband. His family throws......
- Here Are A Number Of Simple Suggestions For Your Search Engine Marketing Efforts There was previously a movie called "Field Of Dreams" and in this motion picture one of the most well-known quotes was, "If you build it they will come". Well that is how it was on the Internet many years ago, but not any more. Those days are gone and these......
- Hardgainer Bodybuilding "Everybody who's ever picked up a weight thinks he's a hardgainer." There is a nasty little term that a lot of weight trainers use - "hardgainer." What is a hardgainer and how should a hardgainer train to promote maximum muscle mass? I say "nasty" because every kid who lifts and......